Foreign policy and defense
El Salvador's foreign policy is strongly
influenced by its close relationship with the United
States. During the Civil War 1980-1992, the United
States supported the government with both civilian and
military assistance. Today, the cooperation encompasses
both trade and a joint fight against the high crime rate
in the region. During the 2000s, El Salvador has
strengthened contacts with its Central American
El Salvador was for a long time, along with Colombia,
the United States' closest ally in Latin America, and
the United States played a significant role during the
Civil War. It has later emerged that the US government
chose to keep the Salvadoran state's many human rights
violations secret in the 1980s to get the US Congress to
grant aid to the country.
Overview of business holidays and various national observances in El Salvador for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025.
The United States has a military station in El
Salvador to combat drug trafficking from South America.
In 2005, the United States Federal Police (FBI)
established an office and a police school for Latin
American police in San Salvador. During the US-led war
on Iraq 2003-2009, El Salvador had 380 soldiers
stationed in Iraq.
El Salvador is dependent on trade with the United
States, which is the most important trading partner, and
on money that many of the salvadorans in the US send
home to relatives (see Economic overview). Following the
2001 earthquakes, tens of thousands of Salvadoran people
illegally residing in the United States were granted
temporary residence and work permits. Many temporary
permits have since been renewed, but under President
Donald Trump, the United States has decided to expire
nearly 200,000 Salvadorans. However, a deadline set for
January 2020 has been extended for at least one year.
In 2014, the United States formed an Alliance for
Prosperity with El Salvador as well as Guatemala and
Honduras, and pledged a total of $ 750 million to the
three countries in the "Northern Triangle" which is the
most violent region in the world where there is no war.
The idea is that the money will be used to improve
security and reduce poverty in the countries, thereby
counteracting the large influx of migrants who are
illegally seeking refuge in the United States. The
alliance was then formed a sharp increase noted by the
number of Central Americans, and not least minors, who
were trying to make their way to the United States. In
early 2017, El Salvador received a first payment of $ 98
Under Trump, the United States has invested in other
methods to prevent migrants from accessing the United
States. All three countries in the Northern Triangle
have signed agreements that say they are "safe
countries" to which asylum seekers can be sent back from
the United States.
Conflicts with Honduras
Relations with neighboring Honduras have sometimes
been characterized by conflicts. It was not until 1992
that the International Court of Justice in The Hague
ruled the border dispute between El Salvador and
Honduras after the 1969 football war (see Modern
History). In 2006, El Salvador and Honduras concluded a
long-standing border dispute in the Gulf of Fonseca. But
in 2013 a new conflict arose in the bay, this time about
the small uninhabited island of Conejo (Rabbit Island).
Isla Conejo, which is less than half a square kilometer,
belongs to El Salvador but Honduras claims the island
which is strategically important for the country's
access to the Pacific. In the fall of 2013, Honduran
military landed on the island and set up Honduran flag
there. The Salvadoran government stated in media that it
was trying to resolve the conflict diplomatically.
Cooperation with neighboring countries has gradually
been extended. A Central American parliament, Parlacén,
was established in 1987, but its influence is limited.
It has been included since the early 1990s as part of
the Central American cooperation project Sica, which
also includes political integration and a joint court.
Free trade agreements have also been signed (see
Economic overview) and cooperation exists to fight
organized crime and the youth gang in the region.
The newly elected President Mauricio Funes opened
2009 for the first time in 50 years of Salvadoran
diplomatic relations with Cuba. Both countries entered
into a free trade agreement, which came into force in
Broken relations with Venezuela
Under the left-wing government of El Salvador
2009–2019, the government kept some distance to
Venezuela's disputed president Hugo Chávez and his
successor Nicolás Maduro. Despite this, El Salvador
joined the Venezuelan oil cooperation Petrocaribe in
2014. Following Nayib Bukele's presidency, the
relationship became increasingly strained, and in
November 2019, the government expelled Venezuelan
diplomats and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaidó
as Venezuela's rightful president.
El Salvador had long belonged to a group of small
states that had relations with Taiwan, thus renouncing
diplomatic relations with China. Taiwan, among other
things, provided assistance in natural disasters. In
August 2018, however, relations with China and Taiwan
were established, thus breaking ties.
During the Civil War, the defense consisted of 63,000
men. According to the 1992 peace agreement, the force
would be halved, but the cuts were greater than that. El
Salvador's defense is based on mandatory, selective
military service for one year for men between the ages
of 18 and 30.
FACTS - DEFENSE
20,500 men (2017)
The air Force
2,000 men (2017)
2,000 men (2017)
Military expenditure's share of GDP
0.9 percent (2017)
Military spending's share of the state budget
4.1 percent (2017)